Antivirus Suites Compared: Microsoft Free A/V Inadequate

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft Security Essentials has put on a mediocre showing in a series of recent tests run by international examiners The results were deemed so poor that Microsoft actually placed 20th out of 22 antivirus products tested.

MSE Strong at Detecting Known Variants

Microsoft Security Essentials 2.0 (MSE) started off the testing procedures relatively strong when required to uncover malware drawn from industry-agreed Wildlist selection, including malware variants such as the Koobface virus.

In this test, Microsoft Security Essentials finished with an impressive detection rate of 100 per cent. It also fared well against a number of recent malware samples selected by a panel of AV-Testing personnel, finishing with a favorable 97 per cent score. (Source:

MSE Missing Effective Email and Web Protection

Issues began to arise, however, when Security Essentials went up against 107 recent zero-day malware attacks.

Despite AV-Test claiming that the flaws represented "real-world testing", MSE was only able to spot half of them. The product also produced dismal results in areas of "dynamic detection testing", which discovers a malware infection on or post-execution with a 45 per cent detection rate.

By comparison, the test average for real-world testing and dynamic testing was 84 per cent and 62 per cent, respectively.

In a Techworld release following the antivirus testing performances, Andreas Marx of AV-Test weighed in on Security Essentials. "The product (MSE) is missing effective email and web protection and also dynamic detection/protection technologies, so the product performs worse when compared with other free or paid offerings." (Source:

BitDefender Takes Top Honors

Of all the antivirus programs tested, BitDefender's Internet Security Suite 2011 ranked the highest, scoring a maximum weighted score of 6.0 across all tests. BullGuard Internet Security 10, F-Secure Internet Security 2011 and Kaspersky Internet Security 2011 all scored 5.5 for a share of second spot.

In the end, Security Essentials was awarded a "pass" certification under the AV-Test assessment, receiving satisfactory marks in at least 11 of the 18 areas tested.

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